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Apocalypse-Cinema2012 and Other Ends of the World$
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Peter Szendy

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264803

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264803.001.0001

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The Last Man on Earth, or Film as Countdown

The Last Man on Earth, or Film as Countdown

(p.5) Chapter 2 The Last Man on Earth, or Film as Countdown

Peter Szendy

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on dates and countdowns in apocalyptic films. Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) opens with a scrolling text that starts with “Early in the 21st century.” In the exposition that precedes the opening credits of Roland Emmerich's 2012 (2009), one sees many inscriptions of place and date that note the signs from all over the globe which announce the catastrophe: copper mine in Naga Deng, India, 2009—Lincoln Plaza Hotel, Washington, 2009—G8 Summit, British Columbia, 2010. It argues that a date is a countdown to the now, and it will always have been in advance. It is a countdown apparatus like all the chronometers that measure the time that remains, starting with the Mayan calendar brought up to date through today's fashion for the new age and ending with the Doomsday Clock, where the minutes separating us from the apocalypse appear. The chapter then considers the The Last Man on Earth (Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow, 1964) and The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971), the first and second adaptations of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend, followed by a discussion of how the countdown was invented at the movies.

Keywords:   dates, countdown, Blade Runner, 2012, The Last Man on Earth, Richard Matheson, I Am Legend, Omega Man, apocalypse-cinema, apocalyptic film

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